In an era when larger-than-life blondes like Molly Ivins and Ann Richards were busting through Texas political glass ceilings with the three S’s — savviness, self-confidence and a sense of humor — Carol Reed commandeered everything from four-top table negotiations to plans that changed the face of North Texas.
It was mesmerizing to watch her work a conference room. Like a brilliant concert conductor, she could bring a group of crosswise heavy hitters into total harmony for collaboration. She’d been a Dallas mayor-maker, getting Jack Evans, Starke Taylor, Ron Kirk and Tom Leppert elected; strategized successful bond elections; and shined the spotlight on Fair Park and South Dallas, just to name a few.
It wasn’t always the winner’s circle, though, and Carol owned up to it with a shake of her head.
But despite all the headline-making undertakings with the out-sized personalities, it was still Carol who was the fulcrum of this universe of movers and shakers. Oh, the stories she could have told from those early days. From being the only woman at the conference table with city fat cats to her years serving as the media go-to- source for upcoming elections, Carol was a legend among the elite decision-makers of North Texas. But she was not a hear-and-tell type. She kept her confidences behind a smile and a wink beneath that blonde hair.
In recent years, Carol enjoyed nothing more than starting off the day with a workout at the Crescent Club spa, and ending it with friends to talk about her latest trip with her mom, Maria Trumbauer, or to applaud the brilliance of her two daughters, Laura Reed and Angela Shellene, who had become her business partners. But Carol was still the go-to-guru taking calls and strategizing with “friends.” After all, Carol’s clients all became her friends.
Over the past decade, as social media rose to new heights of influence, Carol went in the other direction. Out of her bag of tricks, she and Chris Heinbaugh and Craig Holcomb together created an intimate gathering — the 3C Salon, where a handful of guests would break bread in Carol’s condo for anything-goes but strictly off-the-record dinner conversation. While the menu was always great, the real feast was the conversation. An invitation to one of these quarterly suppers was more coveted than an audience with the Pope.
At the end of the year, a holiday party would be held for all those who’d ever attended the salons. It invariably turned out to be the event of the season, with politicos, media and all types schmoozing. WFAA sports curmudgeon Dale Hansen would hold court on Carol’s balcony overlooking Turtle Creek; former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk would wander through the kitchen telling a story leaving a trail of laughter; and Dallas Morning News Editor Mike Wilson would be cornered by a PR person in the dining room. Just this past summer Carol had been worried that her apartment was getting too small to accommodate the hundreds of guests. Still, no matter, she figured. The more the merrier.
But that all changed on Monday, December 2, when a note was emailed to 3C Salon holiday party invitees that the event scheduled for Thursday, December 12, would have to be canceled “due to unexpected circumstances.” Word was passed through the grapevine that the circumstances involved Carol’s having just been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It didn’t look good. But then one friend who’d visited her reported that Carol had been in great spirits, staying with Laura and online-shopping at Neiman’s. One couldn’t help thinking that this report was Carol’s deliberate “plant” to ease the concerns of friends who wanted to reach out to her to help.
When Carol’s father Ollie Trumbauer died four years ago, she eulogized him by saying, “I met the ‘Man in full’ that my Dad became…
- “The man with joy and pride in his family.
- “The man that had a dedication to God.
- “The man that had a constant drive to do the right thing.
- “The man of principal,
- “Always forgiving, always searching, always steadfast.
“I would end with Isaiah 40:31: ‘Those in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary; they will walk and not be faint.’”
In hindsight, those words could easily have described the qualities that Ollie passed along to his daughter, who died Thursday morning.
Today, as family and friends try to adjust to their loss, Carol’s probably already setting up a first-ever salon in the after-life with Herb Kelleher, Ross Perot Sr. and T. Boone Pickens at the dinner table. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that one.
A celebration of her life will take place following the holidays.